A web site is an invaluable business tool for both you and your clients:
- Your web site enables you to make, as much information available to customers as you think is needed
People use the Internet often trying to find quick answers to basic questions. What are your opening hours? Do you offer payment plans? What is your phone number or email address? These are the days of “Inquiry Marketing”; so get a website if you do not already have one, and make sure that people can actually find it in the search engines and directories.
- Offer products/services 24/7
Few businesses keep their doors open around-the-clock. But a Web presence can make it seem as if your business does. Through click-on e-mail, customers, clients, or partners can contact you when it's convenient for them. Potential customers can find out information about what you sell and how you sell it at all hours -- on weekends, in the middle of the night, or in different time zones.
A website will allow your business or organization to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Having a website is the equivalent of having an employee working around the clock -- even weekends and holidays!
- Your competitors are already on the Web.
Customers (especially the newer generations) will demand you have a website, and will pass you over if you do not have one. It is a matter of adjusting to shifting market conditions.
If you are in direct competition with another business that has a website, they have a clear advantage. A website is a great way to level the playing field.
- Improve Branding
Branding is a way to differentiate your product, service or company from its competition, and create loyalty. The content of a website, its style and tools such as newsletters allow for many ways to differentiate yourself, make the visitor feel good about you, and build loyalty.
- Your customers and potential customers are already searching the Web.
More and more people are using the Internet to purchase products and as a means of gathering initial information about products and services. The attraction to this medium is that the customer is relaxed because he can read and research the information at his own pace and without any "hovering salesmen". It is quite feasible that the surfer will visit a number of sites before he decides on his final choice of product. You need to be certain that you are one of the sites that he has visited if you are to stand a chance of gaining his business. If you have no web site, you have no chance.
- A website makes it easy for people to refer new customers to you.
For many businesses, referrals are a crucial source of new customers. Having a website makes it easy to encourage referrals, because customers can simply send friends and business contacts to your site. Website addresses are easier to remember than phone numbers. Plus, giving people multiple ways of contacting you makes it more likely that they will do so.
- Your customers can buy your products and pay for them while sitting at their computers.
It is estimated that it costs 8 times more to sell a product from a shop than from the Internet.
- A website increases the value of your advertising.
Adding your website address to all your advertisements, business cards, and company literature is a great way to draw potential customers to your company. Providing a website gives people a way to act on your message whenever they hear about you or see an ad for your company. Going to a website is easier than writing, visiting a store, or even making a phone call. Customers get the information at their convenience and don't have to wait for a salesperson to help them. Also, it's often more comfortable to visit a website, because there is no obligation. Visitors don't feel pressured.
- You can change the information on your website whenever you want.
You must have been in a situation where your prices have changed or your products have changed, so your catalogue/price list/product literature/marketing literature becomes out of date. Not only is all your existing literature now worthless, but you also need to make a substantial investment in order to produce new updated material.
With your Internet site, changing anything is a simple and inexpensive process.
- Your website can reach potential customers locally, nationally or worldwide - at no extra cost to you.
The Internet is being used on a regular basis by millions worldwide with more "connecting" every day. Many of the new users come from countries around the world. They want to buy the "latest and greatest" products. They have money. With the Internet they can become your customer! How much do you think it would cost you to advertise in the Times of London, the Tokyo Daily, and Moscow Today? Compare that to the cost of a website. The information you provide on your website is instantly available to every one of these users
Websites Are Not Just Local - They Are Global. With a website, you can take your goods and services around the world, if you so choose. You have at your disposal the whole world market for whatever product or service you happen to provide.
- Reach An International Market
If you target specific International markets it may be highly effective to design dedicated websites for them. By targeting your US customers on a “.com” site while servicing your Canadian clients with a “.ca” site you are able to cater to the specific needs and expectations. It allows you to avoid confusion by separating different currencies, taxes, fees and prices onto different websites. You may even want to consider offering websites in different languages, such as a specialized “.nl” website, in Dutch, for your loyal customers in The Netherlands.
- Reach A Specialized Market
Do you sell cat and dog helmets? Are you into custom peptide synthesis, or other biotech products? Whatever niche market you may service, a website will expand your possibilities of promoting or selling your product or service – wherever in the world your prospects may be.
- Your website can save you a lot of money.
- Lower printing costs because you need much less printed letters and brochures.
- Lower postage costs for the same reason -email becomes a major (and much cheaper) distribution method.
- Lower advertising costs because your web site lasts longer and produces greater results than adverts.
- Lower wage costs because your web site can be like an extra person with the automated processes it can carry out.
- A Website Increases your Credibility.
Websites Improve Customer Confidence & Corporate Image. With a professional website, you will improve you overall impression to the public and, in turn, your customers will develop a greater sense of confidence in your organization.
- Improved customer support, e.g. by providing FAQs
Provide personalized support for your customers with answers to common questions; assistance on specific products or services, provide a variety of ways in which you can be contacted. Do all this without answering a phone or hiring additional staff.
Answering the same questions over and over again can be a great waste of money and employee morale. A carefully crafted list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), posted on a website, can reduce the stream of repetitive questions so your Customer Support department can actually start supporting customers, and your Sales Department can really devote their time to selling!
- A website is a powerful sales tool.
Your website can work like a kind of robot, Sending information to customers, replying to emails and even making sales - day and night.
You can reply to your customers or potential customers automatically without you having to get involved at all. With simple devices called "auto responders" you're able to set it all up whereby specific targeted replies are sent out to different people, night or day.
- Try new ideas (test out new services or products instantly)
A dedicated website can prove to be a very valuable test case before fully launching your new success – or quietly taking it off the market again if the market is not quite ready yet ;o)
There're whole lot of great ideas you can make money from the Internet. When you use the Internet, you can try new ideas usually for little invested on your part. It doesn't work, OK, you learned. Modify it your idea. Improve it. At the very least you'll know more than your competitors.
- Reach customers that speak a foreign language
Translate your website into a number of languages and offer a choice to users when they come to your home page to further increase your exposure.
Addressing your target audience in their native tongue will certainly improve your chances of success.
- A website helps you stay in contact with potential customers.
There are frequently people who are interested in what you have to offer, but they might not be ready to buy right now. You need to stay in contact with them so that you immediately come to mind when they ARE ready. A website is a great way to facilitate this. You can use your website to collect email addresses from visitors. Then you can periodically send out promotional emails or a newsletter. Staying in contact keeps your company fresh in visitors' minds.
- Solicit Feedback From Customers
A contact form on a website can provide you with a lot of valuable information from customers, prospects and other interested people. You may even get them to take an online poll – especially if you say they can win a prize as a reward. And if the stakes are high enough, the free word-of-mouth promotion will start automatically…
- Integrate Supply Chains
By offering your clients online ordering you are able to integrate whole supply processes. You can offer them password-protected areas with their information, such as prices, year-to-date ordering information, and more. This can be considered additional customer service, but may also be forced upon you by powerful clients or suppliers.
- Improve Communication
Brochures and flyers only allow for a few lines of communication. A carefully crafted website can guide your clients, suppliers or employees through page after page of information. Another advantage is that you can add audio and video to these pages – something that paper communication tools cannot offer.
- Change Communication From One-To-One Into One-To-Many
Conventional marketing tools allow you to promote or sell 1-on-1. A website can cater to many prospects at the same time. An effective website will also help you build a buzz: word-of-mouth promotion.
- PR Tool
A website can be a great PR tool. You can post Press Releases on it, or articles, or a complete Press Kit – with pictures, sound files, bios, and more! You can also start a forum or blog (an interactive type of online diary), which can be a great PR tool.
- Communicate With Audiences Worldwide
The world is your oyster – especially with a website, which allows you to communicate with audiences worldwide. Geographical locations or time zones are no longer a problem with the 24/7 availability of a website.
Having a website significantly improves your customer reach no matter what services or products you offer.
When it is busy in your store, not all visitors will be able to speak to one of your sales people. Opportunities to cross sell (“did you see that we also sell …”) are lost. But on a carefully constructed website you can make sure that people are exposed to other offers that may interest you. A classic example is Amazon.com, which is very successful with an automated suggestion feature (“Customers who bought this title also bought:…”).
- Increase Customer Loyalty By Giving Them More Control
These are the times of inquiry marketing, and anything-on-demand. The customer wants to be in control, and websites are a perfect example of that. The customer decides what they want to see, and when, and if you do that right, you will have acquired a loyal customer.
- Play With The Big Guys
Many small companies successfully take on the big Guys. Websites can be relatively inexpensive (compared to running a brick-and-mortar store), and with proper usability and search engine optimization your website can be as good as your larger competitors, or even better!
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